USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘dating’
general

“Don’t date your dance partner”

“Something we tell our new people is a warning that you shouldn’t date your dance partner. So, here’s the thing: this used to be followed all the time. When I got here, nobody was dating anybody on our team, and this is out of 50 people on the dance team – I don’t know the real number – and about 20 competitors…wait, I take it back. There was one couple: Nick and Claire. Nick and Claire were dating, but nobody else was dating. Nick and Claire came in as a couple already, and so they became dance partners. They didn’t dance together for everything, though they did dance together for some things. What we don’t like is when people meet through the ballroom dance team, dance with each other for a while, and then say, ‘You know what? I’mma date you.’ This happens in the professional world a lot. Professional dancers, they’re usually 16-17 years old – they’re young – when they meet each other. Well, sometimes they’re 23-24 years old when they meet each other, but usually it’s fairly young, and they dance with each other for a while. Whatever the exact age, they’re young, and they’re all kinds of hormonal, and they’re dancing with a very attractive person, these professionals. ‘I’m hormonal. I’m dancing with a hot person, and this hot person knows how to use their body. Yes, I’m going to try to make something out of this,’ and they do, all the time. They get married sometimes, and then they divorce each other. It almost always happens. I mean, there are a few cases where it doesn’t happen – they’ve learned how to make it work – but it’s usually a disaster in the professional world to date your dance partner, because you break up, and then you can’t dance together anymore, and the you gotta go find a new partner, but you’re older, and everybody’s already taken. Then, your career is done. So, finding somebody you click with is important, and then not trying to have sex with that person is equally important once that first part is done. On our team, we recommend the same thing. If you have a dance partner, that’s great. Work really hard to not date them or try to be more than friends with them, because if you do, when you try, it’s an easy way to lose a dance partner. So, it’s a little odd that we had a lot of people over the last two or three years end up dating the people that they dance with. Sometimes, they started to dance with the people that they’re dating. That happened to me. That happened to…actually, I think that happened to most people. They met first, started dating, and then said, ‘hey, we’re going to dance together.’ Usually, we’re still pretty good about being like, ‘We’re going to dance together. Oooh, I like you. Let’s do this thing.’ It’s easier when you go from dating to dance partners than from dance partners to dating, but it still carries risks, so we advise people to treat your dance relationship like your regular relationship: talk about things and seek help from others when you need it.”

Background Information and Context:

What the informant is describing is based on his years of experience on the SC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team. There is no way to say – at least, not without surveying members of multiple dance teams – whether the phenomenon of having a lot of couples on a dance team is exclusive to the SC Ballroom and Latin Dance team or, if it is not exclusive, if the couples on other dance teams act like those on USC’s team. Although, I have heard similar advice of being wary of the person with whom you start a relationship in other teams and in other contexts, such as work. This part of our conversation was more personal in nature than the topics that preceded, and I was mildly surprised that the informant, for the most part, kept his personal opinions out.

Collector’s Notes:

What was interesting about this topic is that I hadn’t originally intended to ask about it but noted to the informant that I found it odd that both of us are dating our dance partners. I’d heard the general opinion that dating your dance partner leads to unnecessary complications in both the romantic and dance relationship, but still, nobody dissuaded me when my boyfriend first asked me out, months after we’d started talking about becoming competition partners. On our team, there didn’t seem to be any negative examples of such a relationship to make me worry beyond the passing thought. I think it’s interesting that dancing, especially ballroom dancing, is heavily romanticized, and performers are criticized if their dance lacks passion, romance, tenderness, etc., but actual romance, specifically a new romance, is met with wariness. Moreover, it is interesting that popular media so often portrays romance/attraction and drama/angst as inextricable from each other. The connotations of dancing and romance seem at odds with each other.

folk metaphor

Pico y Pala

Ok, so we have another saying in Spanish that is, when you’re trying to, like, go out with a girl—or a guy, it doesn’t matter—and that girl doesn’t wanna go out with you, the thing that we do is called “pico y pala” which refers to pickaxe and shovel, and it just means that you have to, like, break down the rock before you move it. That’s basically what the saying says.

 

 

This saying basically says that dating someone you like may not always come so easily—you may have to “break down the rock” or work hard to crack the proverbial shell to win the heart of a particular woman or man of interest (especially if she/he plays hard to get, you will have to toil to get what you want). Sergio had to break down the rock a lot when he was younger, as many girls were either very shy or pretended like they didn’t like him.

 

Sergio says he learned this phrase at a very young age from his father—perhaps around eleven or twelve years old—which shows a big difference between American and European culture when it comes to dating and sex. Most American parents shelter their children from sexual/dating related content as it is considered more adult.

 

I have never heard of an American equivalent to “pico y pala” but I have heard about women playing hard to get and having to work to win her heart. My parents never spoke to me about such things when I was eleven or twelve. I learned most things about dating and sex on my own or from friends.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Bringing a girl to a party is like bringing sand to a beach.

“Bringing a girl to a party is like bringing sand to a beach.”

 

My informant, Andrew, is a college student who regularly attends parties as well as throwing them.  He had been debating who to bring as a date to the New Years Party that would ring in the year of 2007 in Huntington Beach, CA.  He also kept in mind of who he would want to kiss at midnight.  When he was hanging out with a guy friend of his, Andrew asked his friend’s opinion of who he should bring.  His friend who was the one throwing the party admonished Andrew for thinking about bringing a date, saying, “Bringing a girl to a party is like brining sand to a beach.”  He meant that there will be plenty of girls at his party, so why should Andrew tie himself down from having as much fun with them as possible because of a date?  His friend assured him that there will definitely be enough girls with whom to kick of the New Year, so hearing the similie, Andrew decided not to bring a date.

As soon as I heard Andrew tell me this, I understood the meaning.  While girls may not appreciate hearing this, guys would catch on quickly.  Just as bringing sand to the beach is futile in that there is already an abundant supply of sand at the beach, bringing a girl to a party is also useless where they will be flocks of girls who are eager to have fun, so there is no need to bring a date.

Adulthood
Childhood
general

Hispanic Mating/Dating Practice “Ir a Caminar”

My informant says this about his background:

“My parents are both um…from Mexico… and then they moved to the uh…Sacramento, California in uh ’88 and had my sister and I was born shortly after that in ’91…um…we lived in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood until the time I was in third grade at which point my Dad’s career brought us to a point where we could move into a high income neighborhood elsewhere in Sacramento and I lived there since until I moved to Los Angeles this year for college.”

He was also raised in a Catholic family.

He provided the following exchange about this Hispanic dating practice “Ir a Cominar”, which means, “to go walking”. It’s a specific way of socializing with teenagers of the other sex in a specific environment:

Informant: I guess the only way to put this is that it’s a sort of mating practice, in the sense, that uh, in the vil–small town where my parents grew up, La Pidad, there was a very specific way you would, uh, teenagers would, go around meeting each other–with the other sex. Um… in the plaza, they would always call it ‘Ir a Caminar’, to go walking, and basically, people would just go walking around in the park and the plaza and um…all the girls would walk around in the middle, talking to each other and would wait for the guys, who would sit on the outside and approach them and ask them to go walking. Um, I thought this was weird, because when my parents first talked to me about it, they, uh, they, treated it like a totally normal thing um, but this was [snicker] a specific environment where boy girl interactions would happen, in fact, that’s where my parents met.

Collector: Is this like going out?

Informant: No, no, it’s not going out, but just walking. It’s a very, a, this was a very odd way they,um, you know, every relationship starts like that! No matter where it goes, every relationship starts like that where they grew up. I haven’t heard about it elsewhere, outside of their town.

Collector: Why do you think they do this?

Informant: Um, to me, uhh..obviously you have no control what teenagers might do later in their relationship, but considering they grew up in a very very Catholic community, this seems like a very innocent, um, way of meeting people. But, there’s a certain level of tradition about it, with me, it always seemed old fashioned, um, it seemed like uh, because it’s so public–it’s out in the park–you want to display that modesty before the relationship is starting, um, and then uh, people experience a sort of private life from there.”

While there are many interesting dating practices existent in the folklore of other cultures, this one is specially interesting in how regulated the practice is and there’s a certain protective quality about this sort of regulation. The women are protected by each other in the inner circle and the guys have their guy friends, or what some might call “wing men”, around them. Each sex is supported by their friends as they mingle with the opposite sex and the practice becomes quite protective and innocent in nature.

The fact that my informant feels this practice is old fashioned might call into question the norm of dating in the United States as of now. While I may be over-generalizing, modern teen culture and dating practices seem to place an emphasis on sexual relations, or hookups/one night stands, instead of devoting effort to developing a nurturing relationship, losing or skipping the sort of modesty and innocence that my informant describes in the folk practice he observed. So, ultimately, perhaps this difference between dating practices suggests that teenagers these days are exposed to sexual relations way too early from the media and even propagated by their own folk circles–like a sort of leftover or lasting effect from the Free Love Revolutions of the 1980s.

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Proverb

Proverb- “You Are Who You Date”

This proverb was taught to Lauren by her father, Charles Corley. The meaning of this proverb is stated by Lauren to be, “When the person you are dating mirrors the characteristics you have. So dating somebody that’s jacked up and cheating means you’re probably jacked up and cheating too.” Lauren said you would use this proverb when you are explaining to someone who is having problems in their relationships. This proverb can be used amongst women and men.

Lauren’s term jacked up refers to someone is treating another person wrong which therefore causes an unhealthy relationship. I do agree with Lauren’s interpretation of this proverb. The proverb is explanatory and shows the person that you are with reflects the types of people you like to hang out with. This proverb reminds me of another proverb that my mother once taught me which states, “Association brings about assimilation”. This proverb is similar to Laurens because it also states the people you decide to associate yourself with are the people you will start to assimilate with, sharing similar interests, styles, tastes, emotions, hobbies, etc. However, I believe this proverb can only be used on a case-by-case basis because there are people who end up in unhealthy relationships whose character does not necessarily reflect the character of their spouse.

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